Mumbai Indians don’t like it easy, do they? In their final home game in the league stage, they pulled off a heist like they usually do at the fag end of the game to sneak in a three–run win over Kings XI Punjab in Match 50 of the Indian Premier League 2018 at the Wankhede Stadium on Wednesday (May 16).
An enterprising 65–run stand between Krunal Pandya (32 off 23) and Kieron Pollard (50 off 23) propelled the hosts to 186 for 8 after they were in trouble at 71 for 4 as Punjab had begun superbly, led by Andrew Tye’s heroics.
Punjab will be bitterly disappointed with the effort, especially after a 111-run stand between KL Rahul (94) and Aaron Finch (46) had set the game up for them, but it was once again the reliance on the top order which came back to haunt them. Jasprit Bumrah proved too good for them in the end as the pacer returned figures of 3 for 15 to help Mumbai seal a thriller.
It was a top-edged six which got Mumbai’s innings going, and it was the same for Punjab. Rahul was circumspect but Chris Gayle had no qualms welcoming Hardik Pandya with a smashing pull over mid-wicket for six. Pandya conceded 19 runs from his first over thanks to the six and a couple of boundaries, the second being a pristine drive from Rahul.
Gayle (18) was dished out with a lot of short stuff and he perished trying to take one on from Mitchell McClenaghan. Rahul on 21, got a life when Ben Cutting dropped a tough chance at cover but Punjab were not complaining as they finished the Power Play in control at 57 for 1.
Going past 600 runs in the season, Rahul waved past Rishabh Pant to own the Orange Cap and brought up his sixth fifty in IPL 2018. Finch gave Rahul good company to lay the platform for their side, getting the odd boundary to keep the scoreboard ticking, and reduced the equation to 60 needed from 30 balls.
Rahul brought up the 100-run stand with a couple of sixes off Mayank Markende but Bumrah brought his side back in the game with the wickets of Finch (46 off 35) and Marcus Stoinis in the same over. Mumbai turned to Ben Cutting to fill in for the leggie, but Rahul wasn’t going to let him get away. He first pulled him for a boundary before reverse-scooping a couple over the keeper’s head to reduce the margin to 23 from 12.
The tide turned again when Bumrah outfoxed Rahul with a slower one and was caught at long-off for a 60–ball 94. Bumrah left McClenaghan 16 runs to defend in the final over; Yuvraj Singh found the fielder at sweeper cover to give McClenaghan his second wicket and despite the six from Axar Patel, Punjab finished on 183 for 5.
After being put in, Mumbai started cautiously as the Punjab bowlers bowled tight lines and lengths. Suryakumar Yadav, the in-form opener, took it on himself to get the innings going. He first top-edged Ankit Rajpoot for a six before lofting him over long-off for another one and finished with a deft boundary to third man, taking 21 runs from the over.
The desperation meant Punjab turned to Andrew Tye, who struck with his first ball, castling Evin Lewis (9). Mumbai’s No. 3, Ishan Kishan, looked scratchy right from the beginning and despite smoking Mohit Sharma for a couple of sixes, he fell to the knuckle ball from Tye. Yadav (27 off 15) fell the very next ball and Mumbai, with 60 for 3 in six overs, had mixed feelings about the Power Play.
The pressure doubled when Rohit Sharma (6) mistimed his pull off Ankit Rajpoot and was caught at mid-on. Their woes at home were best summed up when two light towers blanked out for a good long 10 minutes as Kieron Pollard, who replaced JP Duminy, tried to resurrect the innings with Krunal Pandya.
Krunal played the aggressor, hitting Stoinis for a couple of sixes and a boundary to wrestle back the initiative. The duo brought up the 50-run stand in just 32 balls but Stoinis had the last laugh when he had Krunal caught at short fine leg. The momentum, though, was firmly with Mumbai by then. They had plundered 72 runs in the span of five overs after the light-break to be in position of strength after 15 overs. Both Krunal and Pollard picked their bowlers and went after them no holds barred.
R Ashwin returned to scalp the wickets of Pollard, who had just brought up his fifty off just 22 balls, and Ben Cutting (4) to keep his side in the hunt. Tye, whose first two overs went for only five runs, bowled exceptionally, dismissing Hardik Pandya (4) at the death to finish with figures of 4-0-16-4. But it wasn’t enough, as the lack of depth in their batting let them down once again.